Scottish government funding aimed at closing the attainment gap in schools must be “the bare minimum”.
That is the warning from Isles MSP Beatrice Wishart – education spokeswoman for the Scottish Liberal Democrats.
The SNP administration says pupils living in Scotland’s most deprived communities will be among those to benefit from £215 million of targeted funding in 2021-22.
It says the move shows its commitment to pay the first instalment of the expanded £1 billion Attainment Scotland Fund in the first hundred days of parliament.
The payment is the largest amount awarded for a single year.
Ms Wishart said the attainment gap had “barely budged” since the First Minister first took office.
“Audit Scotland made that point clearly earlier this year,” she added.
“At the current rate it will take more than three decades to close the attainment gap. Our children and young people cannot wait that long.
“With the additional struggles as a result of the pandemic, this funding must be the bare minimum.
“The government must make the pupil premium permanent to give schools confidence to make long term decisions and inspire real change. That would also give confidence to schools to recruit additional staff and reduce short-term contracts.”
Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “Closing the poverty-related attainment gap and ensuring every young person has the chance to fulfil their potential remains central to this government’s work.
“Our ambition is a long-term one and we know that the challenges presented by the pandemic mean our efforts to deliver equity in education are more vital than ever.”